Here we go, another bog lap around the sun.
“Fang it!” shout the kids, as do the billboards on the side of the road, and the news bulletins pinging at you from your phone, and that bloody fitness watch you gave yourself for Christmas.
But all you can think is, if only that grape between the centre console and the driver’s seat would petrify. You’ve tried to reach it. But all you've managed to do is stick your fingers into its thin-skinned gooiness. Twice, because you’re not a quitter.
And here you are in February, coming out of the holiday bend and staring down the straight of a full school year and starting to wish things could be a little simpler. A little slower. Right?
Well, resolution season is over and that’s OK because resolutions are basically an annual form of madness in which we pretend that doing the same thing (promising to be more disciplined, virtuous, patient….) will result in a different outcome. But it doesn’t work because they're not a solution. They are a re-solution. Like a re-tread.
So instead of calling on you to make a belated resolution, I want to offer you an invitation. An invitation to take more days off this year. To do less. Well, a kind of less, that is also a kind of more.
I want to invite you to take days off in nature. As a family. Now that might not sound like a day off. There is food to pack, and gear to take, and drives to be done, and…… Well, that is kind of it.
Pick a spot together. Bush? Beach? River? Throw together some food but do not, I repeat DO NOT, open a cookbook for this. I’m talking sandwich level food here. Then let everyone choose one thing to bring (book, bag of cricket stuff, whatever). And just go.
Don’t write long checklists. Sure, you need sunscreen, but you need sunscreen to go to the mailbox in Australia, and water. And it's always worth checking the weather and avoiding the really scorching days. But that’s the basic stuff you do every day anyway.
The tough question from the kids will always be: “What are we going to do?”
The perfect answer: “I don’t know. Let’s find out.”
Now when you get there (and ‘there’ might be five minutes away, or it might be that National Park an hour out of town) consider starting with a walk. Before you pull out the picnic blanket or anything, go for a walk together. Hat, water bottle, that its. Walk.
Conversation will happen, even if it starts with “why are we doing this again?”. It just works better shoulder to shoulder, with things to look at, and do. And by the time you get back to the car, the pace of being outdoors will have settled in a bit. Someone is going to want to just lie down under a tree. Someone else will want to explore a bit.
Leave the devices at home, or in the car, and just spend a day (or as much of the day as works for you). No sport, no birthday parties, no catching up on the washing. Just go.
Now imagine doing that once a month. Just once a month. Is it me, or did the racetrack of the year just get a little more pedal bumper car and a little less Bathurst?